Locals Only Artist of the Month: Smokey Brights


April 2, 2015

Seattle has long been a frontier town that attracts musicians who want to invent and reinvent – from Jimi Hendrix to Kurt Cobain to the next unnamed musical star. While the sound may change from decade to decade, the Northwest’s music scene is as vibrant as ever. And here at The End we feel it’s important to help put our homegrown talent in the forefront by giving you a taste of our cities musical richness.


On a frigid January morning, Seattle quintet Smokey Brights packed every piece of gear they owned into a van and set up a recording studio in a massive barn on a Christmas tree farm in rural Carnation, WA. With the help of Cameron Spies and Elisabeth Ellison from Portland band Radiation City, the band filled their drafty, spooky studio with the sounds of what was to be their debut full length record, “Taste for Blood.” After nine chilly days, stopping only to eat and sleep in a lofted apartment area above the barn, the crew emerged with an enigmatic and complex record.  Rooted in 70’s rock, the band traced surprising lines between new wave, folk, shoe gaze, Memphis soul, psychedelia, and blue color rock and roll. “Taste For Blood” hearkens back to a time when records were less of a collection of attempted singles, and more of holistic emotional journey, a lush landscape to get lost in.
The recording session started off what was to be a huge year for the group. In summer, singer/ guitarist Ryan Devlin and vocalist/ keyboardist Kim West got married, with the rest of the band in the wedding line. The band also brought their AM-pop-magic to a number of the Northwest’s biggest festivals, including Timber! and Bumbershoot. Shortly thereafter, Smokey Brights released “Taste for Blood” to a resoundingly warm reception. The album – self-recorded, self-released, and entirely self-funded (no Kickstarter, no record deal, and no trust fund) – wound up on a number of “best of” lists, including that of DJs Marco Collins, Milo Miles, and Kevin Cole.  The record release show at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern sold out before the doors even opened.
Despite these successes, the band remains as they have been since their beginnings in 2011: best friends. Bassist Jim Vermillion and drummer Nick Krivchenia have been hard forged brothers in rhythm for over a decade, having met studying audio engineering at Evergreen State. The two have been in bands ever since, including their experimental bass-loop duo Armed With Legs. Lead guitarist Mike Kalnoky and songwriter Ryan Devlin met playing in Seattle punk bands in the mid aughts, where Kalnoky’s melodic and textural playing first caught Devlin’s ear. Devlin and keyboardist Kim West have been playing music together at home for years and are delighted that their naturally harmonizing voices are reaching greater audiences.  Through the countless hours of collaboration that has forged the band, the members have become even closer as friends. If Smokey Brights appear to be having a better time than anyone else in the room, it’s because they probably are.






"Taste for Blood"


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